The self-conscious ironical tone of The Blithedale Romance is one of the first things that strikes the reader, and this tone is set by the first-person narrator, Miles Coverdale, an independently wealthy poet. In spite of his expressed desire to participate in the experimental paradise of Blithedale, Coverdale’s implicit attitude is that of a dilettante, someone who loves his creature comforts but who, through boredom, is pursuing an idealistic alternative to his privileged artificial life. If Coverdale typifies those who, like Hawthorne, participated in the Brook Farm experiment of 1841, the reader can understand why the project failed.
Coverdale is essentially an observer of life. He is able to situate the socialistic experiment of Blithedale historically: It is a successor of the Puritan attempt to make one’s principles the foundation of daily living. Coverdale notes that group living requires a sacrifice of individual development, and the prime leaders—Hollingsworth and Zenobia—are individualists incapable of such a sacrifice. Perhaps because of the first-person narrative mode, none of the three main characters described by Coverdale ever comes to life on the page.
Hollingsworth is the type of the single-minded philanthropist who has channeled all of his considerable energy into founding an institute for the reformation of criminals. This apparently selfless devotion endears him to the two female protagonists: the dark and...
(The entire section is 964 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Blithedale Romance Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!